Gerald Ford on Health Care

President of the U.S., 1974-1977; Republican Rep. (MI)


Urged national health insurance bill

In his first address to Congress after succeeding Nixon, President Gerald Ford urged lawmakers to approve a national health insurance bill, but President Ford's short tenure was dominated by high inflation and other economic woes.

Jimmy Carter also focused on inflation when he became president in 1977. Even though he had supported universal coverage during his campaign, President Carter decided that his first foray into health care would be an attempt to rein in costs, not expand coverage. In the previous decade, the consumer price index had increased by 79.7%, while hospital costs had risen 237%. President Carter proposed an across-the-board cap on hospital charges that would limit annual increases to 1.5 times any rise in the consumer price index.

Source: Critical, by Tom Daschle, p. 66 , Feb 19, 2008

Catastrophic health insurance for all Medicare recipients

Hospital and medical services in America are among the best in the world, but the cost of a serious and extended illness can quickly wipe out a family's lifetime savings. The burden of catastrophic illness can be borne by very few in our society. We must eliminate this fear from every family.

I propose catastrophic health insurance for everybody covered by Medicare. To finance this added protection, fees for short-term care will go up somewhat, but nobody after reaching age 65 will have to pay more than $500 a year for covered hospital or nursing home care, nor more than $250 for 1 year's doctor bills.

We cannot realistically afford federally dictated national health insurance providing full coverage for all 215 million Americans. But I do envision the day when we may use the private health insurance system to offer more middle-income families high quality health services at prices they can afford and shield them also from their catastrophic illnesses.

Source: Pres. Ford's 1976 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 19, 1976

Vetoes $550M for public heath services

I am today returning, without my approval, S. 66, a bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide support for health services, nurse training, and the National Health Service Corps program.

S. 66 would authorize excessive appropriation levels, far in excess of the amounts we can afford for these programs. The bill would authorize almost $550 million above my fiscal year 1976 budget request for the programs involved & cannot be tolerated.

Apart from its excessive authorization levels, S. 66 is unsound from a program standpoint. S. 66 would expand such separate categorical programs as Community Health Centers and Migrant Health Centers. The expansion of the Federal role in health services delivery through such narrow categorical programs is not consistent with development of an integrated, flexible health service delivery system. The Federal role in overcoming barriers to needed health care should emphasize health care financing programs--such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Source: Veto of a Public Health Services Bill (APP #436) , Jul 26, 1975

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Other past presidents on Health Care: Gerald Ford on other issues:
Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

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V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022